Melvyn Bragg was the highlight of my last trip to Hay (though he also had the dubious honour of being the sweatiest speaker I saw, bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘dripping with enthusiasm’. Fortunately for Melvyn, though not for the rest of the festival goers, the temperature has dropped fifteen degrees in the past four hours, so the front row was safe).
I feel a little bit as though I have been run over by an intellectual bus, and cannot hope to do justice to everything Bragg says. He was fizzing with ideas and digressions and asides, so the best I could do was try and get the gist of it.
Basically, there are those, like Dawkins, who write the King James Bible off as a consolation or a sop, arguing that it makes people weak and passive. Bragg says that no: the Bible has been a positive, active, liberating force which has steamrollered all progressive movements of the past four hundred years – from abolition to female equality and even science.
More recently, we’ve tended to play down the Bible, whether deliberately or out of neglect or indifference. Bragg thinks this is a huge mistake. You may not agree with the faith, but you can’t deny it’s impact, he thunders. And you don’t have to believe it to be grateful for it.
Bragg speaks a lot like the Bible reads – all poetic and rhythmic but also with serious power. In terms of clever ideas per minute, this was the best value event so far.
Of course, he’s so clever that my own brain fell out of my head in the signing queue at the thought of approaching greatness. Instead of making some sensible remark, I managed to forget how to spell my own name and blather on incomprehensibly. Sorry Melvyn. I am not worthy.
Melvyn is in awe of something worthy: the Bible is unique and he is recognising its power. I heard his address at hay last Saturday and it was a fascinating. However, he seemed to me to be attempting to justify the Bible to an increasingly humanistic world that only responds to its own agenda: ie Man at the centre. For my part, I have come to realise that we are merely the subjects and that God is the caller of all shots, for our own wellbeing. Newton’s unedited preface to the great Principia testified to Yahweh and His Word; these days he would probably have only rubbed shoulders with the Christadelphians. I did enjoy hearing the wonderful passages of Hebrew and Greek in Tyndale’s English to a big audience. Well done Bragg!
Pingback: In Which I Meet Some Heroes and Make an Idiot Out of Myself « amused, bemused and confused